Month: August 2014

meatless monday: eggplant caponata with buratta on ciabatta


While Alex was is in Copenhagen riding bikes and eating delicious meats, I’m in Macon doing a solo Meatless Monday. One silver lining of Alex’s absence (hey, I have to find something positive, right?) is that I can utilize one of my favorite ingredients that he doesn’t like: eggplant. Neither of us is a picky eater, but each of us has a short list of no-gos, and one of his is eggplant. I requested one in my CSA box for this week, and I’m so happy with the results of my eggplant caponata.

Caponata is a Sicilian dish that’s essentially a simmered vegetable spread that can be eaten as a dip, spread, or pasta sauce. It almost always features eggplant, onions, and tomatoes, some kind of salty element (olives, capers, etc.), some sweetness (sugar), and a little sour (vinegar, brine). Many variations exist, and like any pasta sauce, are especially helpful at the “kitchen sink” effect: throwing in veggies that need to be used up. My caponata included eggplant, onion, green bell pepper, carrots, mushrooms, red tomatoes, and green tomatoes, but you could sub in or out these vegetables for fennel, celery, okra, other mild peppers, tomatillos, zucchini, squash, etc.

Eggplant has many feathers in its cap, but a big perk of having it on a Meatless Monday is that it has such a meaty consistency. While eggplant has little nutritional value, it’s a great replacement for meat in heavier dishes and its dense consistency stands up to robust flavor. This recipe is very easy–most of the labor is in chopping vegetables, a secret favorite of mine–and the heavy-bottomed pot and olive oil just does all of the work for you.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is its local appeal. I got the gorgeous egglant, red and green tomatoes, and purple basil from The Dirt Farmers CSA and the ciabatta, buratta, and other pantry items from our awesome urban market, Ocmulgee Traders. Shopping local feels (and tastes) so good!

The caponata is the kind of thing that’s delicious the day of, but is even more tasty after it’s refrigerated for a day or two. I can’t wait to make an excuse to eat it again! Tonight, it was divine spread on some crusty, toasted ciabatta with creamy, dreamy buratta cheese. Buratta is so divine; it’s like fresh mozzarella on the outside and runny and creamy on the inside. I topped these with some pretty purple basil, salt, and cracked pepper. Somehow my two pieces disappeared very quickly!

Eggplant Caponata

1/3 cup olive oil

1 medium eggplant, diced

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 small green bell pepper, diced

2 carrots, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

4 medium tomatoes or 8-10 small tomatoes, large diced

1/2 cup canned mushrooms

1/2 cup green olives, chopped

6 oz. tomato paste

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add eggplant, carrots, onion, bell pepper, garlic, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook for about five minutes, add the tomatoes, then cook for about five more minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 30 more minutes.

Use as a spread, dip, or pasta sauce.

lunchbox life: BBQ shower leftovers, part two


We meet again, Sunday! This weekend has been another great one for Macon: two successful Saturday events, Macon Beer Festival and Weaver’s Weekend, were excellently executed and tons of fun. I was especially proud to show off my town to a few of my GHP girlfriends who came into town for a visit! Since I dropped Alex off at the airport for a week in Copenhagen (no, I’m fine…really…not jealous at all…why do you ask?), I was glad to have some company to enjoy a day on the town. After the GHP gals and I parted ways,  I got to work on food prep for a BBQ baby shower for two of our dearest friends, Adam and Lauren Ragusea. Alex (in absentia) and I co-hosted the shower with our friends Tim and Leila Regan-Porter at their house, and I like to think that it was the opposite of a typical baby shower: no tiny sandwiches or punch, frilly decorations, or games. Instead, we had barbecue, hearty sides, beer, and men along with women! We did a similar setup for Tim and Leila before they had their precious Rosemary June in the spring of 2013, and I spent the rest of the week happily eating leftovers for lunch. This week is a repeat of that, but I’m also going to include the recipe for brussels sprouts salad, a crowd-pleaser and healthy alternative to coleslaw. This recipe is our go-to when we take a side dish to a barbecue, and we were introduced to it by today’s guests of honor, Adam and Lauren!

This week, I’m having some leftover beer can chicken that was cooked by Tim on the Big Green Egg, a healthy portion of brussels sprouts salad, a spoonful of Fresh Air coleslaw (because why would you make your own when you can pick up the best at Fresh Air?), and a 1/2 cup of baked beans.

Brussels Sprouts Salad

1 lb. brussels sprouts

1 shallot

1/2 cup chopped cashews

for the dressing: juice of two lemons, 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard, 1 tsp. honey, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper

Cut off the stems of the brussels sprouts, then either thinly slice them or use the shred function your food processor to thinly shred the sprouts, then place them in a bowl.  Cut the shallot into paper-thin rings and sprinkle on top of the sprouts.  Top the salad with the cashews. Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar, shake vigorously, then pour over the salad and toss to combine.

meatless monday: latke-frittata stack, asparagus, garlic Hollandaise


Brunch for dinner.

Welcome to another installment of Meatless Monday, where butter and eggs can be the deities we should recognize them as. On this installment, we deny the supremacy of breakfast for dinner with the clearly superior brunch for dinner concept. Brunch is a time when savory entrees masquerade as morning small plates, but no more, my friends. Tonight, we bring the once a week meal to prime time. I hope you will join me on this journey. 

Also, this meal is big, tall, and bold. It’s not the brunch Mother’s Day commercials would have you believe in. This meal had the such big flavors that you definitely do not find yourself asking for sausage or bacon. It stands alone. 

At any rate: on to the food. 

Bottom tier: Latkes

2 potatoes, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
1/2 vidalia onion, finely chopped
2 eggs
Salt water bath (1/4 cup salt, quart water)
2 sprigs rosemary leaves
1/4 cup oil

Grate the potatoes on the large side of a box grater and place into salt water bath. Grate the carrot in the same fashion and place into the bath. After a few minutes, drain the potatoes and carrots with a fine colander. Place the two onto several paper towels and form a pocket. Ring as much water as possible from the mix and place into a dry bowl. Add the onions, pepper, some salt, and rosemary. Beat the egg and add to the mix. Stir until all is coated and well combined. 

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Take an egg ring and place it on a flat surface. Fill the ring halfway with latke “batter” and press. Use a scrape shover/food mover to lift the ring off the surface. Pull the ring off the formed latke and gently slide into the hot oil. Fry about 3 minutes on each side until brown. Repeat for each one, makes about 8. 

Middle Layer: Frittata

This is just a basic frittata with veggies. Obviously, you can make it any way you like. 

10 eggs
4 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms
2 stalks broccoli
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 campari tomatoes, diced
1/2 stick butter
Salt and pepper, 1/8 cup olive oil

Begin with the broccoli. Toss in olive oil and salt and pepper and 1 clove garlic. Lightly roast it at 450 for about 15-20 minutes. 

In a large non-stick pan, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and sweat about 10 minutes. Add the remaining garlic. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs together with 1/2 the cheese and some salt and pepper. 

Remove the broccoli from the oven and add to the pan. Using a metal spatula, chop the veggies until they can lay flat on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook for about 1 minute. Top with the remaining cheese. 

Lower the oven to 350 and cook the mix for about 12 minutes until the middle is fully cooked and set. You can use the clean fork test if you like. 

Using an egg ring of the same size as the one used for the latkes, cut plugs into the frittata and place on one latke. Top with another latke to complete the stack. 

Topping: Asparagus with Garlic Hollandaise

1 stick butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 egg yolks
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pot of water
1/2 pound of asparagus
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp white pepper

For the Hollandaise, begin by melting the butter over medium low heat. Add the garlic. Simmer about 10 minutes. Drain  the butter through a strainer lined with a coffee filter and let it cool to room temp. 

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice until it is thick and doubles in size. Heat the pot of water to a simmer and place the egg bowl over the water, continuing to whisk. Slowly add in the butter until the mix is velvety smooth, making sure to take the butter slow to not break the sauce. Whisk over the heat for about five minutes to make sure the eggs are cooked. 

In a frying pan, add the oil and pepper and heat to medium. Add the asparagus and toss. Cover and heat about 10 minutes. Turns and heat another few minutes and remove from heat. 

Drape the asparagus over the top of the stack and ladle on the sauce. Gobble it up. 

Brunch for dinner is a wonderful thing with these steps! No need for meat when you can get big flavors with veggies, butter and garlic!

Have a good week, y’all. 

lunchbox life: slowcooker turkey and kale meatballs with whole wheat rotini


Ah, Sunday: we meet again.  This weekend was full of disco fever due to Taste of the Arts: Studio 54, a disco party and auction benefiting Macon Arts Alliance.  Months of hard work by the committee and staff were all worth it when we saw Macon’s Terminal Station lit up in pink lights and booming with disco music!  Today we got to take it easy and sleep in a bit, although I do have to brag on my run buddy Renee and myself who both attended Taste of the Arts last night and ran six miles this morning–woohoo!

This week’s lunches are a partial request from friend and reader Jennifer Borage.  Jennifer and Jason have a beautiful new baby girl, Bethany, and Jennifer requested a slowcooker recipe to save time and energy as she adjusts to new mommyhood and going back to work full-time.  This recipe would be a great lunch or weeknight meal, so Jennifer, this is for you, Jason, and sweet Bethany!

The great part about these meatballs is that you don’t have to worry about baking the meatballs in the oven before you place them in the slowcooker.  You just mix the meat mixture, form the meatballs, place them in the slowcooker, pour the sauce over the meatballs, and cook on high for 4 hours.  These are super simple, healthy, and will change the way you think about the otherwise arduous task of meatball making.  I got a good bit of inspiration from this Skinnytaste recipe, but I added the kale and whole wheat pasta to make it a well-rounded meal.  Enjoy!

Slowcooker Turkey and Kale Meatballs with Whole Wheat Rotini

Serves 8

2 lbs. ground turkey

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 egg

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped, massaged with 1 Tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper

for the sauce:

2 28-oz cans of crushed tomatoes (I like Muir Glen Organic brand)

3 bay leaves

5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup fresh parsley

8 oz. baby bella mushrooms

salt and pepper

2 cups dry whole wheat rotini (double this amount to match the pasta needed for all of the meatballs in this recipe)

For the meatballs: in a large mixing bowl, add the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, egg, oil-massaged kale, garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Once the meat mixture is evenly combined and begins to take form, start forming the meatballs in golf ball sized shapes.  Don’t pack the meatballs too tightly; they’ll become too tough if you over do it.  As you form each ball, place them in the slowcooker.  You should have about 30 meatballs from this amount of ingredients.

For the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pot and add the garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Cook garlic for about 1 minute until fragrant, then add the 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, parsley, and mushrooms.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, then pour the sauce over the meatballs in the slowcooker.  Cook on high for about 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, depending on when you’d like for them to be ready.

When you’re ready to eat, quickly prepare the pasta according the package directions.  Remove the meatballs from the sauce in the slowcooker, then when the pasta is ready, drain it and place pasta in the sauce; stir to coat and combine.  Add about 3/4 cup of pasta and sauce to a dish, then top with four meatballs for each bowl.  Top with grated parmesan.

tasty tuesday: carnitas with rice, jalapeno lime agave jam, jicama salad paired with Terrapin Guano Loco

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Today we get to debut a new feature that will occur monthly on the blog. We are happy to announce that we are partnering with Peach State Ale Trail to feature a beer pairing on the blog. This month, the beer pairing is from Terrapin, one of the State’s flagship craft breweries and hailing from the place that should not be– Athens, GA. The beer is this:


I am proud to say it was not in fact bat poop and it was delicious. 

Not having had the beer, I had to trust the advice of Chris Tsavatewa and the internet. Playing off the chili pepper and sweetness, I decided to do a nice bright and somewhat light (in flavor if not calories) Mexican dish with some twists. I hope you enjoy!


4 country style ribs (Pork Butt Strips)
Rub of cumin, black pepper, salt, red pepper, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bottle beer
1 cup water
4 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 bay leaves
1/4 onion

Carnitas are a classic Mexican dish similar to slow cooked bbq pork. The dish is braised in a combination of spice and a liquid that allows the pork to stew in its own fat. In other works, it is pork on pork and amazing. 

Begin by heating a deep pan to medium high and adding the oil. Rub the pork in the spice rub (each flavor to taste. I went heavy on black pepper) and sear on each side about 3 minutes per side. Remove the meat and then add the remaining ingredients and stir.

Preheat oven to 325. Bring the liquid to a simmer and add the meat to the liquid, making sure the top of the meat is exposed. Cover the pan and place in the oven. Flip at 30 minutes, cook at least an hour or until the meat pulls easily with a fork.

Jalapeno Lime Agave Jam:

2 red jalapenos, seeded and ribbed
1 green jalapeno, seeded and ribbed
1 tomatillo, peeled
4 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
Juice of 2 1/2 limes
1/2 lime zest
1 tsp black pepper
1tsp salt
1/4 cup agave nectar

Heat a grill pan to medium high. Grill the peppers, tomatillo, and garlic until browned on each side. Squeeze the lime juice into the bowl of a food processor. Add the peppers, tomatillo, garlic, zest, onion and spices. Process until finely chopped. 

Pour mixture into sauce pan over medium heat. Add agave and stir until simmering. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. 

Serve over mexican rice (1 packagege vigo saffron rice cooked to the instructions on the package)

Jicama Tomato salad. 

Jicama is a potato-like tuber with the texture of a carrot. It is fine to eat raw or in a slaw, unlike a potato. It has a sweet flavor which makes it perfect for salad and slaws and has a nice crunch. 

1/2 Jicama root
5 campari tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp cumin

1/8 cup olive oil
1 tbsp blood orange olive oil
1/2 tsp cilantro leaves
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp agave
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1/2 lime

Peel the tough outer layer of the jicama and grate with a large cheese grater. Add the tomatoes and toss with the cumin. 

Mix the dressing ingredients in a deep container with a lid and shake. Pour over the jicama mix and toss. 

These flavors are many layered, classic mexican flavors. The dish maintains a great brightness throughout and has great sweet a spicy notes. This made it a great compliment to the Gauno Loco which, as an ale that has the appearance and texture of a sweet stout, has a nice balance similar to a Mole sauce. You can really taste the sweet notes of the beer combined with the bright lime and hot peppers in the dish. The heat of the dish melts away in the chocolate milk like beer with a kick. The beer certainly makes up for the lightness of the dish, which is why I recommend this paired with food instead of as a stand alone. It is not for day drinking for sure!

I highly recommend both. 

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meatless monday: butter bean falafel pitas

image(59)Happy Monday, folks!  Hopefully your week is off to a better start than mine.  This morning began with an intention of a great attitude, but when I got to school and realized I left my lunch on the counter, that noble aspiration dashed away.  Add typical Monday readjustments and the “what goes up must come down” folly of having a great weekend, today was not my favorite.  I did, however, manage to find some shoes and jewelry for this weekend’s Taste of the Arts: Studio 54 event, and my day was mostly salvaged by taking some time to cook in my kitchen.  I did some meal prep yesterday when I was putting together my lunches, so this afternoon was met with only a few tasks before supper was on the table.

Falafel is a delightful Middle Eastern street food in which many vegetarians and omnivores delight.  Usually made with chickpeas, these beany balls of fried goodness are best enjoyed wrapped in a pita or on their own with a side of tangy tzatziki sauce.  For a southern twist, I used butter beans and lady peas (same mixture as the salad from this week’s lunches) in place of the chickpeas, and it worked beautifully.  This falafel is full of similar flavors from the traditional take: tahini paste, lemon juice, fresh mint and parsley, and of course, garlic.  They are fried in vegetable oil, drained, then tucked into pita pockets with lots of crisp romaine lettuce, ruby red farm tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumber and radishes, salty feta, fresh parsley, and drizzled with tzatziki. Check out this lovely mise en place I did before I dressed the pitas:


These pitas are so filling that you’ll think you cheated at Meatless Monday!  They’re also very easy to make.  Don’t let the deep frying intimidate you; because the falafel balls are pre-cooked and aren’t meat, you won’t have to worry about cooking the meat to a specific temperature.  All you’ll need to watch is the golden brown exterior that looks like it will give your falafel a nice crunch on the outside.

Butter Bean Falafel Pitas

Serves 2-4 people

1 1/2 cups cooked butter beans

2 Tbsp. tahini paste

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1/4 cup fresh mint

5 garlic cloves, paper removed

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

about 1/3 cup flour

32 oz. canola or vegetable oil

4 pita pockets

1 small tomato, sliced

2 radishes, thinly sliced (sub red onion if you like)

1/4 of one English/hothouse/seedless cucumber, thinly sliced

4-8 leaves of romaine lettuce

2-4 oz. feta, crumbled

any additional fresh parsley

for tzatziki sauce: 4 garlic cloves, 1/4 of one English/hothouse/seedless cucumber, 1/3 cup fresh parsley, 1 cup 0% Greek yogurt, juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 tsp. salt

In a food processor, combine butter beans, tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, mint, salt, and pepper until a dough forms.  Remove mixture from the food processor and form about 16 golf ball sized balls.  Place falafel balls on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to cook the falafel, heat oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat.  While the oil is heating, roll the falafel in the flour to coat them.  When the oil is ready, drop about four falafel balls in per batch and cook until golden brown (about 4 minutes for each batch).  Place cooked falafel on a paper towel-lined plate.

In the meantime, combine tzatziki ingredients together in a food processor to combine.

To assemble the pitas, tuck 1-2 romaine leaves into each pocket, then dress with a few slices of tomato, cucumber, radish, and parsley.  Place about 3 falafel balls in each pocket, then sprinkle with feta and drizzle with tzatziki.  Enjoy!




lunchbox life: butter bean salad with pea shoots, chicken, and goat cheese

photo(10)Happy Sunday, everyone!  Alex and I enjoyed a lovely Saturday and Sunday morning on Lake Sinclair with some fine folks, and I hope that you had a great time with your friends and family.  Now that the weekend is winding down, it’s once again time to chronicle this next week’s lunches for Mrs. Morrison, your favorite US HIstory teacher.

I am so excited about this week’s lunchbox life, mainly because I relied on our trusty Dirt Farmers CSA box to show me the way.  We received a plethora of goodness this week, and I was particularly curious about what to do with the butter beans and lady peas.  Sure, I knew I could simmer them in some chicken stock and serve them as a side, but I wanted to do something a little different this time.  I’m using the bean/pea combo for both my lunches and for tomorrow night’s Meatless Monday, so stay tuned for butter beans and lady peas, part two.  You might recognize the butter beans in the photo, but the smaller peas alongside them are called lady peas or lady cream peas.  This Southern Living article does a great job at breaking down the differences in summer beans and peas, but suffice it to say that both of these lovelies are mild in taste and creamy in texture.

I also ordered pea shoots this week–pea shoots are a mild, delicate, and slightly bitter microgreen that add a nice pop of dark green to any salad.  I sliced up some radishes for color and a hint of spice.  I don’t care for raw red onion, but you could use some thinly sliced red onion or thinly sliced radishes here interchangeably. Also making appearances in this salad are chicken for protein, parsley and lemon juice for brightness, and goat cheese for…well, do you really need a reason for goat cheese?

I paired this salad with some chunks of white-fleshed sunburst melon from our CSA box.  It’s a lovely melon that looks like a cantaloupe, yet tastes like a cross between very ripe honeydew and cantaloupe.  Yum!

Butter Bean Salad with Pea Shoots, Chicken, and Goat Cheese

Serves 4-6 as a main dish or 8-12 as a side dish

2 1/2 cups fresh or canned butter beans and lady peas (or just butter beans)

4 cups chicken broth + 1 tsp. salt (if you’re using canned butter beans, you won’t need this)

about 10 sprigs fresh thyme (or about 2 tsp. dried thyme, only use if you’re using fresh beans)

2 chicken breasts, cooked, cut into cubes

8 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled

1 cup pea shoots (substitute arugula, chopped, if you can’t find pea shoots)

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

4 radishes, thinly sliced

juice of 1 lemon

If using fresh beans: in a medium-sized pot, bring beans, broth, salt, and thyme to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes.  You can also do this in the rice cooker.

Combine cooked beans, chicken, goat cheese, pea shoots, parsley, radishes, and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight and serve.

WW info: 5 servings, 8 PP each

hot off the press: cantaloupe jalepeno chicken roulade with Vidalia onion risotto


Note: this was originally posted on on July 23:

Welcome back to our humble kitchen! This go round we wanted to share a way to utilize a few other seasonal ingredients in ways that are both slightly unconventional and also very easy.

Two of my favorite foods in the world are cantaloupe and Vidalia onions, but sadly they are often relegated to the realm of garnish or sides, not really the powerhouses of a dish. It really is a shame, because few things are better than the flavor these fresh ingredients.

Cantaloupe Jalepeno Chicken Roulade

Roulade Recipe:

4 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin

Salt and pepper to cover

1 ½ brick Greek yogurt cream cheese

½ cantaloupe, cut into small pieces

1 whole Jalapeno, seeded and chopped

8 large sage leaves, chopped

Juice of ½ lemon

First, let’s start with the protein side of this equation- a nice chicken roulade with a light, flavorful cream filling. Roulades sound and look much fancier and complicated than they really are, making this method a great way to add flair and flavor to a dish without too much effort, especially if you use an outdoor grill as I did with this recipe.

To start the roulade, take the chicken breasts and trim any fat. Butterfly each breast by cutting it in half from the side, but not cutting it all the way through—essentially doubling the surface area. Season with salt and pepper and then pound with a meat tenderizer until each one is about ¼ inch thick. Go ahead and light your grill and heat to about 400.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip together the cream cheese, jalapeno, cantaloupe and sage for about three minutes until well combined and has a light consistency.

Cover each chicken breast with the mixture, spreading even with a spatula. Roll tightly on the vertical axis and tie with kitchen twine. Squeeze lemon over each one.

With the grill ready, place the roulades over direct heat about 4 minutes per side. Reduce heat to 325 and cook an additional twenty minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches about 165. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting into pinwheels about an inch thick. Serve atop the risotto.

Vidalia Onion Risotto

2 cups Arborio

4 cups chicken broth

1 large Vidalia onion, frenched

Salt to taste

1 stick butter

½ cup white wine

5 cloves garlic

6 leaves basil

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup fontina cheese

In a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, melt ½ stick of butter until almost browned. Add the onions and cook until they are brown and soft in texture, about 25-30 minutes on medium low heat. Remove from the pot into a bowl. Heat the chicken broth over low heat in a separate pot.


In the onion pot, melt the next ½ stick of butter and stir in the Arborio. Toast the rice for about four minutes and then add the white wine. Stir until it is absorbed, and then add 1 cup of the broth. Stir and allow the rice to mostly absorb the broth until adding the next cup. Continue until all broth is used or the rice is tender. As the last dose of broth is being absorbed, add the onions, garlic, basil, cheese and lemon juice and stir until well combined.

Kale Salad

1 bunch kale, finely chopped

1 small cucumber, diced

1/2 cup dates, chopped

½ cup walnuts, chopped

1/8 cup olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

1 tsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the kale, dates, walnuts and cucumber in a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Toss the dry ingredients in the dressing.

All together this is a nice, bright summer dish that really makes a statement on a plate. The combination of ingredients creates a nice balance and it is an excellent way to re-imagine these “sides” into something bold.

hot off the press: squash and zucchini savory tart

squash zucchini tart

Some of you know that Alex and I have a syndicated column in the Macon Telegraph, but if you didn’t know, now you do, and you can look for it on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month!  We were so excited when we were approached with this opportunity and love contributing to local content in the Living & Entertainment section.

You can check out our first story on the Telegraph’s website here, and I’ve brought the copy to you here on our blog to enjoy.  This first one originally ran on July 9, and Alex will post his first column (second for Bungalow Kitchen) tomorrow.  Stay tuned for our next column next Wednesday, and thanks for all of the support and well wishes!


My husband Alex and I have been writing a food blog, Bungalow Kitchen, for over a year now, and one of our goals is to eat as seasonally as we can.  There’s nothing better than a ruby red tomato in July or a butternut squash in November, and that’s because it’s in season.  As Georgians, we are particularly lucky that we live in an area of the United States where farmers can grow produce year round due to our temperate climate, so we should most certainly take advantage of it.  Alex and I will take turns sharing seasonal recipes with you, and as the seasons change, so will the featured ingredients.

If you have ever had too much zucchini and yellow squash hanging around your kitchen and you would like to do something other than squash casserole or roasted vegetables, this recipe is for you.  Early summer is peak time for both of these squash varieties, and during this time you’ll notice that the colors of the vegetables get brighter and deeper.  I encourage you to buy zucchini and yellow squash from your local farmers market, such as Mulberry Street Market on Wednesdays, from a local CSA (community supported agriculture) farmer such as The Dirt Farmers or Babe and Sage Farm, or even from a roadside vendor.  The shapes and sizes of these varieties vary greatly from the farmer, but are more uniform at the grocery store.

While squash is a staple in Southern food because of its plentiful existence in our region, it’s not usually seen as a show stopper.  This vegetable is usually hidden in a cream-of-something soup with crackers on the top in a forgotten side dish.  I say it’s time to flip the switch and create a styled squash that’s fit for any backyard barbecue or summer cocktail party.  This squash and zucchini savory tart is visually appealing and will impress your fellow partygoers with your innovative use of seasonal bounty and stylized presentation.  Pro tip: it’s also very easy to make!

Squash and Zucchini Savory Tart

1 puff pastry sheet (I use Pepperidge Farm, check your grocer’s freezer)*
2 medium-sized zucchini
2 medium-sized yellow squash
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 oz. soft goat cheese
6-8 fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper

*The night before you make the tart, place the puff pastry sheet in the refrigerator in its package to allow the sheet to thaw.

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Sprinkle your countertop with a pinch of flour, then roll out the puff pastry with a rolling pin.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the rolled-out pastry sheet on the parchment paper.  Create a crust by turning over the edges of the sheet about 1/2 inch, then crimp the edges with the tines of a fork to seal the crust.  Lightly cut a few lines in the pastry sheet, but not all the way through.  This creates a vent for the pastry so that its will not puff up too much in the middle.  Bake for about 8 minutes, then remove from the oven.

While the puff pastry is baking, Cut off the ends of the squash and zucchini, then halve them lengthwise.  Now thinly slice each into half moons and set aside.

Now that the puff pastry is out of the oven, create five alternating columns of vegetables: zucchini, squash, zucchini, squash, zucchini.  Now create another row, this time changing the order so that the column that started with a squash has a piece of zucchini.  Follow this pattern and complete each column.  Be sure to overlap the squash and zucchini, but allow each bright green or bright yellow edge to be seen.  When all of the columns are complete, lightly sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper.  Place in the hot oven for about 5 minutes.

Take the pastry out of the oven and turn on the broiler.  Evenly arrange the goat cheese in large sections over the pastry and place under the broiler for about 4 minutes.  While the cheese is slightly melting, stack up all of the basil leaves, roll them tightly like a cigar, then thinly slice them into ribbons.  This method is called chiffonade, and it’s an easy and beautiful way to use herbs for garnish.  When the 4 minutes are up, take the pastry out of the oven, remove the cookie sheet and parchment paper, and top it with the basil ribbons.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then cut into squares.

Alex and Eleta Morrison live in Macon and write a food blog, Bungalow Kitchen.  Like their page on Facebook for updates and visit their blog at  Alex and Eleta can be contacted by e-mail at



tasty tuesday: smothered pork chop with shiitakes, quick-fry okra, cauliflower and potato mash, and pickled cucumber

photo(9)This Tasty Tuesday, I took a challenge: pork chops.  I cannot tell a lie–I typically avoid pork chops on menus as I look at them with a skeptical eye.  Will the kitchen overcook them?  Will they taste like chewy tires?  Put simply, they’re usually not that appealing to me.  In recent years, however, I’ve stolen bites of Alex’s pork chops at Downtown Grill, and I have been impressed with every one.  I think my new appreciation for pork chops stems from a simple difference in preparation: the avoidance of cooking them well done.

My friend Steven Fulbright, a fellow Hugh Acheson acolyte, asked me yesterday if I’d ever made Hugh’s recipe for smothered pork chops with chanterelles from A New Turn in the South.  When I told him I hadn’t, he raved about how great they were, so I knew that I had to try them out.  What I ended up with was a take on Hugh’s simple, yet elegant dish, both out of creativity and necessity–I couldn’t find chanterelles at the Fresh Market, so I selected shiitakes instead.  I changed up a few other things, but the simple cooking directions for the meat in Hugh’s recipe made these pork chops, in my humble opinion, pretty darn great.  Seared on the outside and cooked through to medium on the inside, these bone-in chops are simple to make and saved by the accuracy of a meat thermometer.  If you don’t have one, you can buy an inexpensive one at the grocery store or at your local kitchen store–Maconites, go to Robinson Home, of course!

The simple olive oil, salt, and pepper combination on the pork chop allows the meat to shine on its own merit.  The addition of the thin mushroom gravy adds an earthiness to the dish.  The pork chop is set upon a half-and-half mash of baked cauliflower, yukon gold potatoes, and garlic, and some quick-fry okra adds a crispiness to the smooth mash.  The pickled cucumber adds just a touch of sour to cut the creaminess of the mash and stands up nicely to the smooth flavor of the gravy.

Moral of the story: if you think you don’t like pork chops, try, try, again.

Smothered Pork Chop with Shiitakes, Quick-Fry Okra, Cauliflower and Potato Mash, and Pickled Cucumber

Serves 2

2 bone-in, thick cut pork chops (about 6-8 oz. each)

1/2 head cauliflower

2 small yukon gold potatoes

5 garlic cloves

3 Tbsp. olive oil (2 Tbsp. for chops, 1 Tbsp. for cauliflower and potatoes)

2 cups fresh okra, sliced lengthwise

1/3 cup pecorino or parmesan cheese

3 green onions, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. butter (1 Tbsp. for gravy, 1 Tbsp. for mash)

2 Tbsp. half and half, separated

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 cup chicken stock

1 Tbsp. flour

1 tsp. fresh thyme

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

handful of pickled cucumbers slices, cut into 1/4 inch vertical slices (I thinly sliced up one cucumber on Sunday and threw the slices in a pickle jar with leftover pickle juice–easiest thing ever.  The crispness of the cucumber is still intact!)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Rough chop the cauliflower and potatoes into golf ball-sized pieces.  In a small bowl, add the cauliflower, potatoes, unpeeled garlic cloves, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and mix to combine.  Wrap the veggie mixture in a makeshift aluminum foil pouch, place the pouch on a cookie sheet, and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.  In a food processor, add the baked potato and cauliflower pieces.  Also add the garlic, but be sure to squeeze the cloves out of the garlic paper before adding them to the bowl of the food processor.  Next, add 1 Tbsp. butter, the pecorino cheese, 1 Tbsp. half and half, green onions, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the bowl.  Pulse until desired consistency is reached; set aside.

Raise the heat in the oven to 400 F.  Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  While the oil is heating, lightly salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops.  Sear the pork chops on both sides (about 4 minutes each), then place the pork chops on a raised roasting pan and let finish in the oven for about 7-10 minutes.  To check to see if they’re done, place a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thicker pork chop, right near the bone.  When the temperature reaches 150 F, you know that they’re at medium.  Take the out of the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes.

While the chops are in the oven, add the sliced okra to the remaining olive oil you seared the pork chops in.  Stirring occasionally, let the okra cook up for about 10 minutes, browning on the edges.

During this time, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium pan over medium-high heat.  When the butter starts to bubble, add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Next, add the flour and stir to combine, then slowly whisk in the chicken stock.  Turn the heat down to low and let reduce for about 4 minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the thyme, 1 Tbsp. half and half, and lemon juice.

To assemble: add about 1 cup of cauliflower potato mash to the plate.  Lean the pork chop on the mash, then arrange some okra around the pork chop.  Add your desired amount of mushroom gravy to the top of the chop, then sprinkle some of the picked cucumber on the top.  Enjoy!